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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: January 2010

17 - Flashbulb and flashback memories

from Part III


This chapter suggests that 'vivid personal memories' should be studied against the wider canvas of other repetitive phenomena of the imagination such as drug flashbacks, palinopsia, palinacusis, tinnitus, and the post-traumatic memories, and the vivid memories of subjects suffering conditions include phobias, panic attacks, obsessional disorder, phantom-limb phenomena, and depressive melancholia. The creation of a flashbulb memory depends on high level of 'surprise', a high level of 'consequentiality', and high level of 'arousal'. Flashbulb memories seem more accurate and stable than ordinary memories. Flashbacks are triggered by fatigue and certain moods states; and also by environmental cues assumedly related to the original situation suggesting the operation of a context-dependent retrieval mechanism. Victims of trauma often report 'anxious dreams' in which the traumatic event is relived in vivid multisensory images accompanied by the same intense emotions as those of the original event.